Distraction is a killjoy to the Christian life. Though we may have more to be distracted by in the twenty-first century than many throughout history, distraction is not new under the sun. In every generation, good and godly people find themselves rummaging around their lives for joy. Why? Because they are left unsatisfied by worthless pursuits and unworthy pleasures.
Many believers are religiously preoccupied by their phones, laptops, streaming apps, video games, relationships, work, money-making, binge-watching, traveler’s itch, desire for leisure, and all other sorts of things. The great danger of distraction is that it often precedes idolatry. What begins as a desire can become a gaze; what becomes a gaze can grow into a fixation; and what the heart is fixed upon, it worships (Matt 6:21; James 1:14–15). To be so engrossed in “stuff” contends not only with our allegiance to Christ, but also with our enjoyment of Him.
The fight to keep God as the preeminent affection in the believer’s heart is common in life and ministry. However, I wonder if you have perceived another kind of distraction that also impedes upon our delight in God. It’s not a distraction with things, but a distraction from things. This is not the distraction that leads to idolizing or deifying lesser things, but rather to ignoring or dismissing good things—like sunsets, mountains, snow, mustangs, puppies, the Eiffel Tower, babies, buffalo wings, cold brews, roller coasters, fellowship, love, and the list could go on and on.
Maybe like me, there are times when you have struggled with enjoyment in this life because you are wary of being caught up in idolatry at worst, or temporal vanity at best. We are prone to express this misguided disposition toward God-honoring, earthly enjoyment in various ways, but the spiritual dilemma is consistent:
How do I appreciate God’s gifts without depreciating God’s glory? How can I find pleasure in this life when I am called to anticipate the next?
As easy as it might be for Christians to become distracted with lesser things, it is just as easy for us to become pessimists in this life. The antidote to that problem is not to be more optimistic, but to grow fonder of who God is and what God does.
All that God has made and all that God is doing is not only for our good, but is good
Enjoyment is for believers, and my hope is to encourage you that perhaps the good in your life is not at odds with God’s glory, but a means to beholding it. God’s gifts are never the problem. God isn’t out to trick us or tempt us. God is creating for Himself worshippers and saints. His gifts are a pathway, not a dead end or wrong turn, and only those truly alive in Christ recognize that.
God’s Good Things Should Enable Worship
Joy is not sought in the Christian life, it is granted. Believers don’t need to seek it out as though it were in short supply. God generously gives His people joy by the mighty working of the Holy Spirit. Those who have believed upon the beautiful gospel of Christ are empowered toward a vibrant life of joy and gladness (Rom 14:17; Gal 5:22).
And yet, I wonder if you have considered the fullness of joy that is yours in Christ. By faith and grace, your eyes are opened to behold the reality of Christ’s Lordship. It has been revealed to you that Christ is King and Creator, and the world is subject to His reign. “All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col 1:16–17).
Thus, the sun rises and sets to the tune of His glory, the birds sing melodies of His fresh mercies, and newborn babies harmonize His kindness and power. When you appreciate the good things in that light, you are led to fall repeatedly before the King’s throne in praise. You sing David’s chorus, “Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Ps 8:1, 9).
There is no fear in admiring and enjoying what God has made and what He bestows because it all carries His name,
the very seal of His benevolence
And as a believer, your eyes have been opened to see God’s imprint on all things and to respond in the only way a believer would then know how: worship. All the good things in your life are not distractions, they are doorways to a greater and fuller expression of praise to the Lord for all that is wonderful.
“For from Him and to Him and through Him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom 11:36)
God’s Good Things Should Elicit Hope
As you enjoy all the good that flows from heaven’s immeasurable storehouses—be it the stars at night, your wife’s smile, or seconds at Thanksgiving dinner (yes, even thirds or fourths)—you cannot escape the tension that all earthly good has an expiration date. Life is like a vapor, a mist. It is here today and gone tomorrow, and so are all of its things (Matt 6:19–21; James 4:14).
That truth is what drives Christians to live in the extremes. Some are prone to push earthly good aside. Others are given to hoard every earthly token. The response to life’s brevity is neither of these, but to recognize the freedom that comes from looking forward to our future inheritance in Christ (Eph 1:11–14; Col 1:12).
Peter describes that inheritance—that gift of eternal life—as imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1 Pet 1:4). We understand that reality by way of comparison. The things we presently enjoy will perish, can be tainted, and ultimately fade. But friend, that reality does not imply that the things we so enjoy in the here and now are meaningless, void of purpose, or somehow worthless.
The inexhaustible worth of God is enough to make His gifts worth enjoying
That the world is under a curse does not negate that in the beginning, God made it good. There is good, even now. Haven’t you tried a taco al pastor? Or listened to Beethoven? Or seen an entourage of ducklings follow their mother? Of course God is good! And these portraits of His goodness can be enjoyed knowing that while they do not last, they point to a day when goodness and joy will endure, day after day, without interruption.
Praise God From Whom all Blessings Flow
The next time you are on a long drive, take notice of God’s handiwork in creation. When you are blessed with welcoming a newborn, marvel at God’s grand design. Admire beauty, promote creativity, and be captive to majesty. In everything you enjoy, turn back to God and praise His glorious name because all good in life flows from His throne-room (James 1:17).
Walk in the way of wisdom: “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw is from the hand of God, for apart from Him who can eat or drink or who can have enjoyment?” (Eccl 2:24–25).
Don’t be afraid or timid. Live. That’s God’s gift to you.